Is Climate Change Good for Us?
In this activity, students are encouraged to consider how climate change could impact them personally and to see how changes may affect their regions, wherever they live in British Columbia. The exercise reminds us that even with our advanced technologies, we are dependent on the Earth’s natural systems for survival.
Time Required: 90 minutes
Province: British Columbia
1. Check for the students’ prior knowledge and understanding of climate change issues by posing the following question, “Is climate change good for us?” Ask them to consider all they currently know about climate change and the changes it may bring to their lives.
2. Instruct the students to form a line, with those who think climate change is definitely good for us (a solid, no-doubts “yes”) at one end and those who think it is definitely not good for us (very firm “no”) at the other end. Students who are less sure can choose a spot along the line that reflects their degree of (un)certainty. For those who don’t have an opinion one way or the other, or don’t feel they have enough information, they can stand at the center between each end. Assure all the students there are no “right” answers to this question.
3 Explain how the following activity will give them a chance to talk about their position and understandings while learning more about the possible impacts of climate change.
1. This activity can be done individually, but students will benefit from discussing their ideas in pairs or small groups. Try to arrange groups to have students from both ends of the line (warm-up activity) to encourage a rich discussion. If necessary, remind the students of appropriate, respectful ways to communicate when sharing and discussing opinions and knowledge from differing points of view.
2. In their groups, ask the students to first share their response to the question “Is climate change good for us?” At this point, each student should only share their response; remind the students that the next step will help to guide and focus their discussions.
3. Distribute the Effects of Climate Change Chart to each group. Instruct the students to discuss and record what they think would be the consequences or “impacts” of each climate change scenario, using the questions in the headings as a starting point and guide. Note that the chart is very broad in scope, and does not expect students to quantify the changes, but only to consider general trends.
Ensure all seasons are considered by assigning a specific season(s) to each group. You may want to add/remove scenarios to better reflect the potential changes in your region.
The following provides the rationale for each question and indicates the kind of response you might expect from your students for the climate change scenario of “Spring Season, More Rainfall”:
How would it affect me?
Allows the students to consider the possible impacts that may affect them directly.
“Ride my bike less often” or “More baseball or soccer games cancelled” or “Water may leak into our house.”
How would it affect my community? Encourage the students to consider broader consequences such as the affect upon infrastructure, local business, and community life such as annual events.
Remind students to consider the effects of storms and other weather events on infrastructure such as drainage systems, overpasses, electricity and so on.
Example responses: “Good for local farmers with crops that like more water as they will need to irrigate less” or “Wash out bridge if river gets high” or “Local summer festival may make less money because more events will be rained out and fewer people will attend.”
How would it affect local ecosystems? Assists the students to connect and further their understanding of ecosystems by considering the overall impact due to changes in some of the abiotic components (e.g., water availability, temperature, amount of wind). Students may still relate this to how it affects them personally, which is fine.
Examples responses: “Increased local river flow so fish may not be able to reproduce successfully, resulting in less fish to catch” or “More soil erosion and my favourite tree with the rope swing over the pond may finally fall over. The woodpeckers won’t be able to nest there this year.”
4. Once the groups have completed their chart, discuss the responses as a class, comparing seasons. Summarize and record the main effects or one or two common effects. Add examples if the students’ responses are missing key impacts. Ask if there are any categories in which there seems to be no negative effects. Discuss why.
1. Lead a discussion around the question, “What adaptations would humans have to make if certain weather patterns became more common?” Use local weather patterns and events. Adaptations to consider include modifications to infrastructure such as buildings and roads, and changes in diet, dress, activities and transportation. This can be approached as a “What if…?” brainstorming exercise, or students may research actual trends and long-term predictions for their area. See the Primer for general predicted trends; more specific trends may be obtained from government websites listed in Resources.
2. Discuss with the students how plant and animal populations within local ecosystems may adapt over time to the changes in weather patterns discussed above. What might happen to local populations if the changes happen quickly? (Answer: Some species may not be able to tolerate the changes and become extinct or extirpated). Explore how this might affect the students and their community.
3. As a summary, ask the students to stand along a line again as they did in the warm-up. Observe and comment on changes of student position in the line. Ask students to share why they did or did not change position along the line.
This activity is a good cumulative activity and assumes students are familiar with the climate change concepts and the supporting scientific evidence. To provide this information, consider doing lessons Greenhouse Effect: Part One and Part Two, Carbon Cycles! and Bearly Any Ice prior to this activity.
1. Ask each student to record where he/she stood along the line both times in response to the question, “Is climate change good for us?” Full explanations why they did or did not move position the second time should be included. Look for evidence of increased awareness of the complexity of predicting possible effects of climate change and the range of impacts it may have.
2. Ask each student to choose a key plant or animal species in a local ecosystem whose survival may be affected by changing abiotic conditions due to climate change. After doing research, create a poster explaining how the habitat of the organism may change and the possible impact upon the food web and other relationships within the ecosystem. The poster should indicate a clear understanding of habitat, the role of the chosen organism in the ecosystem’s food webs, and communicate impacts clearly, considering how the length as well as the quality of life of the species may be affected.
- Effects of Climate Change Chart Black Line Master (BLM) (See in final age of attached lesson plan) - Pencils
Resource Type:Lesson Plan
Subject(s):Science, English / Language Arts, Social Studies,
Topic:Business and Economics, Ecosystems, Health,
Grade: 7 8 9 10 11 12
Web Pages Used
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